2022 is Year 2 of The Great Resignation; surveys by companies like Resumebuilder.com indicate that 25% of workers plan to leave their jobs this year. Most are planning to make the change early in the year; 52% of jobseekers anticipate quitting in the first half of 2022; 26% plan to quit by March. Nine percent already had a new job lined up for the new year at the time of the survey.
Resumebuilder’s late December 2021 survey found that half of the workers planning to quit are seeking better pay and benefits. This is one of the biggest seller’s markets in a decade or more, so it’s not surprising that jobseekers are willing to test the market. Many are not only looking for new jobs, but also open to changing industries. The survey found that 32% of employees who are looking for new jobs are seeking employment in a different industry. Another 31% are undecided about the specific industry they are seeking employment in, while 37% plan to hunt for jobs in their current industry.
The reasons for quitting are as varied as the people leaving. Burnout is a major factor, especially in industries that deal directly with the public. Remote workers are as likely to quit as workers who have been forced to return to the office – many workers prefer a hybrid model that isn’t yet an option in their workplace.
Some workers are looking for more meaning in their careers. Some for more time to spend with family or on projects that matter to them. Some have side hustles that are beginning to look like game changers.
Whatever the reason you might be considering a move this year, you’ll need to articulate it to a prospective employer at some point. Career Coaches generally agree on a few guidelines for answering this question, which can also come in a more subtle form: what would you want to change about your current role? Your answer reveals as much about you as it does about your job, so it’s important to think carefully about your reasons for leaving.
The first axiom of looking for a new role is to never speak ill of your current or past employers. You may have some legitimate gripes with your current company: toxic bosses, impossible workloads, unsupportive teammates, or simply a bad fit – but those reasons are almost never what you tell a prospective employer. No matter how right you are, you risk coming off as the problem, rather than the victim. At best, you sound like a complainer who might not have been able to handle the workload or get along with others. Most interviewers also believe that what you’re saying about your company now will be what you’re saying about your new company a year from now. It’s a red flag that makes them pass on even the most talented candidates.
The second axiom is that you don’t make pay and benefits your primary motivator, even though it is for half of transitioning workers (see above.) The rule of thumb is that you never talk about cost until you have the employer deeply convinced of your value. Bringing pay and benefits to the forefront of the discussion makes you look mercenary. So how do you approach the idea of earning more in your new role? Generally, candidates who talk about taking on more responsibility or contributing at a higher level are indicating that they’re ready to move up and earn more.
The third axiom is that you couch your desire to leave in positive terms. Talk about what you’re moving toward, rather than what you want to leave behind. It’s better, for example, to say “I’m looking for a role that gets me out in the field with customers” than to say, “I really dislike sitting at a desk all day.”
So what are the best reasons for looking for a new job? Here are a few that set the right tone.
- I’ve learned a lot in my current role, but I’m ready to move on to somewhere I can continue to grow.
- I’m looking for specific experience in a new industry/ new aspect of the job / a new specialization.
- I love this part of my job (be specific), and I’m looking for a role that lets me do more of this.
- I’m hoping to leverage my skills to take on more responsibility (moving into management, a sales role, or project management, for example.)
- I’ve just completed my degree or certification (be cautious if your current employer made this possible; you don’t want to appear to be ungrateful for the support they provided.)
- I’m looking for a career with more… (This could be meaning, opportunity to grow, or connection to a mission.)
- I’m hoping for a job that lets me use more of my strengths (be as specific as you can here: working with a team, interacting with customers, analytical abilities, sales skills, etc.)
Preparing to tell someone else why you’re leaving can be helpful for you in other ways. You may discover deeper motivations – and may find that you don’t need to leave to get more satisfaction in your current job. Justin Bieber once said, “The grass ain’t always greener on the other side; It’s green where you water it.”